HAPPY 2010 EVERYONE!
About everyone is happy that the new year has come around and I am a caught off guard that the holidays have already come and gone. It is the time of year that I just feel so happy and I guess in the thick of the work I couldn't even think about all the things that have been happening here and there. But thanks for keeping me posted and all. It helps me feel closet to home to receive a letter every week.
As I think about the changes that I have had in the last year I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father. I realize that I have changed in monumental ways in the last 8 months even though I feel the same from time to time. My thoughts are more focused on the work and I am a missionary in every waking and dreaming moment. I feel blessed to have been able to help so many people this last year and I hope that this year will bring continued success.
New Years Eve was a bit different this time around. We had the typical fireworks and all but there were a few added features: piñatas, “nacatamales” (a typical Nicaraguan dish that tastes like enchiladas but doesn't have tortillas and is about the same consistency of mashed potatoes, and a whole load of drunk people in the streets. It made for quite the event. The misión gave us permission to stay up until 12 so we got enjoy the fireworks in the streets.
This last week has a been a good week for me to ponder and pray. I have realized that I need to make many changes in my life. As we start this new year, I too have been thinking about improvement and there is so much room for it. This year I have decided to focus more on study and prayer. I have decided to be obedient in Word and in Spirit and I want to fight to have good relationships with all of my companions. I know that these goals will help me to be the missionary that the Lord wants me to be.
This Sunday was special being the first of the year and the chance for members to bear their testimonies. As you know, we have been working with a ton of less active members and investigators. One of the greatest joys I have felt in the misión was to see the newly reactivated members stand up to bear their testimony and thank the members and missionaries for their help. I thanked the Lord for guiding us in our visits.
The spiritual experiences with less active members continue to come. I find myself surprised with the words I say and the doctrine I teach. Then I realize that it isn't me. We met one family this week Saturday night. We were about to visit another family when suddenly I received the impression that we needed to visit that family. Not even knowing the family, I met them and after talking briefly with them we realized that the Lord had directed us to their house. During the lesson they told us that they had been thinking of coming to church the next day. (people don't think things like that after more than a year without going) It was a tender mercy of the Lord. But that was just one of many experiences.
I am gaining such an appreciation for the Home Teaching program now because in our Branch (and district) it doesn't really exist. I know what things it could do for the people.
The parable of the lost sheep has really come to be one of my favorite parables. I know that God really does love his lost children and I can feel so much of His love as I testify to less active and inactive members about the truthfulness of the góspel.
I am thankful for your examples and prayers. Thank you for teaching me the true doctrine of Christ in the home. I was perhaps not prepared for many things in the mission, but I was well prepared in my understanding of the góspel and in my love for the Savior. Those things have been foundations here for me that have only been strengthened, not created. They were well formed because I received great teaching from a loving family. Thank you for being who you are and always being faithful in the church. I pray for you and I hope the Lord blesses all of you. May your new year be full of new blessings, new challenges, and new opportunities to be true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what really matters after all.
Elder Grant Russell
PS I really like the Blog idea. Please post photos and letters and other comments so that my friends and family might be strengthened too. If you could make an announcement on facebook it might help as well. I am sorry for not sending photos for some time. I am trying to find a cyber that has the right plugs for my memory...still looking.